Why It’s a Fiscal Staircase and Not a Cliff (Mother Jones)

Mother Jones attempts to diminish, somewhat, our fears of plummeting off a fiscal cliff Jan. 1, 2013. In a recent article, “What’s Going on With the Fiscal Cliff?, political blogger Kevin Drum explains the background to the crisis (it was spawned by the 2011 debt-ceiling crisis), as well as describes a possible face-saving deal to satisfy both Democrats and Republicans.

The article also says that even if no solution has been reached by the new year, things won’t be too dire — at least, not right away. Without a political compromise, tax increases and spending cuts will be incremental — a staircase rather than a cliff. “On January 1, total spending cuts and tax increases of about $1.6 billion will take effect. On January 2, another $1.6 billion. On January 3, another $1.6 billion. Etc.,” Drum writes. “You see? We’re not really going to fall off a cliff on January 1. The cumulative effect of all this stuff will be pretty small for the first few weeks. It’s only if it drags on forever that we really feel the hit.”

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